If you’re looking to reduce energy consumption in your school, getting your pupils involved is a great place to start! Whether you’re teaching tiny tots or young adults, there are lots of ways you can bring them on board and work together to understand and improve your energy efficiency. Our handy guide is packed full of ideas to help you teach energy efficiency, as well as a free energy saving poster for schools!
Why is it Important to Teach Pupils About Saving Energy?
Teaching children about sustainability and energy efficiency sets them up for a greener future and enables them to appreciate the environment they are growing up in. By educating them from a young age about where energy comes from and its effects on the planet, we can help them to live in a more eco conscious way.
It’s best to start teaching energy efficiency from the very beginning of their educational journey, to help them gain a greater understanding of the impact of their actions, and model positive behaviours to other students.
Remember to keep things fun and hands-on, especially for younger children, and work your energy-teaching lessons into the regular curriculum.
Teaching Younger Pupils About Energy Efficiency
For younger children, it’s important to help them understand the ‘why’ of what they’re doing. Children are much more likely to become invested in projects and activities if they understand the reasons behind them. Try not to get too bogged down in the details, but explaining in basic terms what energy is, where it comes from and how we use it can help children stay focussed on the goal of improving efficiency.
You should also illustrate to children, how energy connects to them personally. Show them how energy is used in the home and which of their toys and games use electricity. A great way of teaching energy efficiency and reinforcing this understanding is to have children do an ‘energy audit’, identifying things in the classroom and the rest of the school that use energy.
Group activities are another great way to reinforce understanding and encourage sustainable behaviour, for example:
- Let children take turns becoming ‘energy champions’ who are responsible for making sure all the lights are turned off when the class leave for break and all the computers are switched off properly when not in use. By giving children responsibilities, they are more likely to take their roles seriously and help one another to act sustainably.
- Get parents involved – tell parents about your energy saving initiatives so they can encourage continuation of this learning at home too. You could even set homework for the children to do an energy audit at home.
- Get children out of the classroom and doing some hands-on activities too, for example, creating an ‘eco garden’. Teach children how growing their own fruit and vegetables can reduce the carbon emissions generated by transporting food deliveries. You could even try creating your own compost from lunch scraps.
- If you are able, taking children on a school trip to a power plant or energy museum is a great way to shake up your lessons up and add a practical element to their learning.
- Many children are practical learners, so don’t be afraid to introduce a more hands-on style of learning, incorporate games and outdoor activities into their lessons to keep things fun and interesting.
- Teach children about animals and the environment by getting them involved in caring for something. An increasingly popular green initiative for schools is to introduce school pets, such as chickens or frogs for children to learn about and help look after. Not only is this an exciting and hands-on activity, but children can learn how their actions effect the environment that these animals live in.
- Show children how to calculate their homes’ carbon footprint and identify ways that they and their parents might be able to improve their energy efficiency.
- Organise a litter pick – this is a great way to get children out of the classroom and help build relationships with the local community. Invest in some litter pickers and high-vis vests and take your class out to a local park. Once they have filled their bin bags with litter, you can help them sort things into recyclable and non-recyclable items. Check out initiatives like Keep Britain Tidy’s Great Big School Clean for inspiration.
Introducing new sustainability rules can also have an impact on your school’s carbon footprint, as well as open up the conversation about sustainability with your students. Some simple changes include:
- Introducing recycling bins in classrooms and around the school, and teaching children how to use them properly
- Banning single use plastics and encouraging children to bring in reuseable water bottles and lunchboxes
- Use recycled paper for notes and encourage children to keep hold of or recycle any scrap paper they have
- Have a termly ‘walk or bike to school week’ where children and parents are encouraged to use more sustainable methods of travel for the week. Perhaps offer rewards or prizes for those who take part
Be sure to teach children how these changes can help their school and the planet. Remember, children are more likely to want to get involved if they understand why they are doing something. Remind them that the work they’re doing is important and reward good efforts.
Energy Efficient Curriculum for Schools
There are also lots of ways you can work energy efficiency into your lessons and teach children how they can apply environmentally friendly practices to their everyday learning and lives.
Reinforce their understanding of energy by teaching them exactly how it is created and used. From mining for fossil fuels, to collecting renewable energy using solar panels and wind turbines.
Teach your class about the history of energy, including big technological breakthroughs and advancements that have led us to where we are today.
It is important that children understand how their efforts effect the planet and environment around them. In geography lessons, you can focus on the changes the planet has seen due to global warming and how sustainability initiatives can help slow or even reverse the effects.
Encourage children to make energy saving posters, either for the school, or their homes, detailing ways they can save energy in their day-to-day lives.
For younger children, you could also encourage the use of recycled materials in art projects, such as tin can wind chimes or recycled paper lanterns.
Create maths questions where students are helping a character work out their energy bill. For example; ‘Susie’s monthly electricity bill is £157 per month. She has been doing her best to cut down her usage and has managed to reduce her bill by 20%! How much is her bill now?’ This will help contextualise their efforts in saving energy.
Even if you are not actively teaching children about energy in this class, you can still incorporate it as a theme to help reinforce other learning, for example, choosing texts for the class to read that have environmentalism as a theme.
Teaching Older Pupils About Energy Efficiency
When teaching older students, they should already have an awareness of where energy comes from and what energy efficiency entails but may need some encouragement to implement these behaviours in their daily lives.
While many of their studies may not be related to energy efficiency, you can still create an environment of eco consciousness in the wider school community and encourage students to take these behaviours with them into their personal and home lives.
A great starting point is to ask students for suggestions and feedback, find out what they are already doing to boost their efficiency, and what they think the school or college can do to become more energy efficient.
Although young adult students may be less interested in making models out of recycled toilet roll tubes than their younger counterparts, there are still lots of ways to improve carbon literacy and energy efficient behaviour in schools, colleges and universities:
- Encourage students to travel to school/campus on foot or via bike, ensuring that you provide secure places for them to lock their bikes up. You could even provide free D locks or essential bicycle accessories such as lights and puncture kits.
- Get students involved in creating content for the school’s website and social media, demonstrating the actions you are taking to boost your efficiency and giving tips on saving energy at home.
- For university aged students, tailoring resources towards saving energy at home can be valuable. Many of these students will be living away from their families for the first time and may not have had to deal with energy bills before, so providing resources with tips on reducing their usage will help them both on and off campus. You could even run some sessions on understanding energy bills, to help students better manage their bills.
- Consider student-led, campus-wide initiatives such as Green Impact; a sustainability learning and awards programme used in many universities to encourage both students and staff to be more mindful of their behaviour in relation to energy usage.
- Offer outside-of-timetable sustainability workshops for students wanting to learn more about energy efficiency and develop their understanding in the context of their education as well as their home lives.
Getting children and young people on board with your energy saving tactics and educating them from a young age is the most effective way to ensure eco-conscious behaviours stick. Remember to keep things fun and interactive whilst showing your students how their behaviour affects them personally, as well as the bigger picture of the environmental climate.
Switch to a Green Supply
A great way to improve your school’s sustainability and reduce your carbon footprint is by switching to an energy supplier that can power your facility with 100% renewable energy.
At Yü Energy, we have green plans to suit all types of educational facility, using renewable, REGO-backed green energy, sourced from our sustainability partners at Carno Wind Farm in mid-Wales. Our plans come with competitive prices, to help you save money and the planet. Find out how much you could save using our free online quote tool.
Download Our FREE Energy Saving Poster for Schools!
Looking for extra resources to help teach pupils about energy efficiency? Download our free energy saving poster for schools, with tips on how to save energy both at school and at home!